…Or at least ambidextrous.
This afternoon I just worked out The Answer™ to why most world cultures revere the right hand so much!
According to modern neuroscience, the 2 hemispheres of the brain have specialised functions. The left side is associated with reason, order, sense of reality & academic intelligence, and controls the right side of the body. The right hemisphere is associated with personal insight, sense of possibility, individuality & creativity, and controls the left side of the body. We also know about biofeedback, which basically says the rest of the body influences brain function just as much as the brain controls it. This means that using the left hand activates the brain’s right hemisphere and vice versa.
¿Why is this important?
Say you’re a ruler of a nation (legitimacy irrelevant) and you want people to obey your laws. Problem: these people are already happy with their own principles & traditions, and their religions are multi-faceted, experiential and prioritise different things to you, so why the bloodclaat should they wanna obey you? And since they outnumber you, how could you make them obey you?
Answer: change their behaviour so they automatically conform! If you’ve paid enough attention to people’s behaviour, you’ll have noticed that certain actions develop/ activate certain ways of being (biofeedback). One of those might be, oh I don’t know, using the left hand activates the same side of the brain that governs individuality! And since right-hand use activates the other side of the brain – the side that acquiesces to logic and order (i.e. your laws) – why not institute a tradition that reveres right-handedness?
Use the right hand for everything: eating, drinking, greeting, lifting, sawing wood, ploughing fields, reading holy books, all that jazz! And just for good measure, reserve the left hand for unpleasant activities like wiping your ass (bare-handed in the case of early Muslims at least)!
Of course that won’t be the whole solution. Suppressing certain forms of sexuality and worship would certainly go into the mix, but controlling people’s handedness could play a subtle yet ridiculously powerful role. And you might want to keep that going by, let’s say, encoding right-hand reverence in religion and culture – and “righting” those who don’t conform.
Then hundreds or thousands of years pass, and for the most part people have been successfully programmed into activating their orderly uncreative left hemisphere. You’re one of them, but you’re disillusioned now. You want to make a physical change in your life because it feels shit. You read all these self-help books and tapes and the rest that talk about changing your spiritual state first.
What if, at least for some, that doesn’t work?
What if action & behaviour needs to be changed before any spiritual change can happen?
What kind of change could be made? And what kind of feedback would that give your brain…?